16 Principles for Leading a Small Group

The Tuesday feature of the Worldly Saints is all about reading. The post is meant to share some of my reflections from the latest book or magazine article or blog post I have or am reading. At times, I may post a book blurb (a wannabe book review) or recommend books to be read by others.


I began reading my 1st book on small group ministry. I have certainly come across chapters or blog posts about effective small group ministry in the past, but never an entire book.

Small Group BookRecently, a friend of mine was giving up some of his library books and I discovered a few books on the importance and effectiveness of small groups in the local church; so I grabbed them to read.

I have been a fan of small group ministry for only a brief time in ministry, but I wish I had seen their importance earlier. To use a term of one of our church members, it’s one of the few places that “cross-pollination” of church members can take place. Small groups are an outlet for practicing the “one another’s” in an intimate setting. Small groups are a venue for developing relationships with people on a deeper level. Small groups can be a great place for elders (or pastors) to more effective shepherd their people.

The book I just started reading is How to Lead Small Groups by Neal F. McBride. Other than his background and training in psychology, it seems like much of his experience will be worth consideration.

Yesterday, I particularly enjoyed these “16 Practical Principles for Planning and Ministering to Your Group.” While each of these does not have a chapter and verse connected to them, they are helpful, nonetheless, as a small group leader. If you are just starting out a small group ministry in your church, you might consider these following 16 principles.

  1. People join groups to satisfy some individual need. (AGREE)
  2. A person will remain in (or join) a small group if he finds the goals and activities attractive and rewarding. (AGREE)
  3. People prefer to participate in groups where other members are similar in age, attractiveness, attitudes, personality, economic status, perceived ability, and needs. (USUALLY)
  4. Total overall participation in a small group decreases with increasing group size. (AGREE)
  5. Group members usually evaluate smaller groups more positively than larger groups. (NOT ALWAYS)
  6. The smaller the group, the greater the feasibility of shared leadership. (NOT SURE ABOUT THIS ONE)
  7. The physical setting in which the group meets affects members’ attitudes and actions and, consequently, helps determine group process. (AGREE)
  8. A more socially and personally adjusted group member contributes to effective group functioning, while an unconventional or anxious member inhibits group functioning. (USUALLY)
  9. Individuals who have been Christians a long time contribute more to the success of the group than do new believers. (DON’T AGREE)
  10. The spiritually sensitive group member contributes to the functioning of the group, while those claiming or projecting superiority inhibit group functioning. (AGREE)
  11. Members are more highly motivated and perform more efficiently when the group possesses clear goals and an understanding or what must be done to accomplish the goal. (AGREE)
  12. Interpersonal relations are generally more positive in situations where goals are mutually derived and accepted. (I THINK I AGREE)
  13. Group performance is facilitated to the extent that members can freely communicate their feelings of satisfaction with the group’s progress toward goals. (STILL THINKING ON THIS ONE)
  14. Groups whose members are heterogeneous with respect to sex and personality types are more conforming and perform more effectively than groups that homogeneous with respect to these characteristics. (NOPE. DON’T AGREE)
  15. A high-status group member (e.g., a pastor) both initiates and receives more communication and may deviate from group norms without being sanctioned if he contributes to the group’s goals. (AGREE)
  16. Greater conformity with group norms occurs in groups with decentralized leadership. (NOT SURE ABOUT THIS ONE)

Next Tuesday, I will give you my biblical case for why small group ministry contributes to the overall health of the church.


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